Jonathan Nicola, believed to be a dominant 6-9 high school basketball star in Ontario, was arrested last week when it was discovered the South Sudan native was actually closer to 29 or 30.
After being arrested and detained under violation of the Immigration Refugee Protection Act, Nicola reportedly told authorities, in his hearing, that his mother, currently suffering from diabetes back in South Sudan, never told him his real age.
“I always keep asking, ‘what is the specific age that I was born?’ and she has told me that she could not remember,” Nicola said, via The Hamilton Spectator.
“Over [in South Sudan] … not every year we study … we always keep moving to different schools, and over there they do not ask your age. They do not ask you nothing,” he said.
Canada Homestay, a group that finds homes for foreign students, arranged for Nicola to live with Pete Cusumano, the head basketball coach at Catholic Central, under the impression that he was a 17-year-old, Grade 11 student.
Given the ongoing violence in South Sudan and the potential for a better future, it’s easy to see how a few individuals might root for Nicola’s success rather than question this 6-foot-9 young adult with a size 16 shoe.